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15 Great Tech Questions to Ask Colleges

A SUNY Plattsburgh Guide for Students and Parents

The non-profit group EDUCAUSE* has composed a list of top technology questions for prospective and new students to ask colleges. Here are our answers to an adapted selection of those questions. If you don’t see your particular top question, we invite you to call, e-mail, or read a list of additional questions and answers to find the answers you need. Or read additional questions and answers.

1. How does the campus use technology to enhance teaching and learning?

SUNY Plattsburgh’s foremost concern is to use the best-available technology to support academic programs, tailoring the technology to the requirements of individual programs and making sure you — the student — understands how to use it. Many disciplines use specialized technology and facilities as an integral part of subject learning. Examples include graphic design, journalism, photography, earth and environmental science, geography, and music.

2. Is there technology in the classrooms?

Yes! Plattsburgh’s classroom tech support ranges from complete computer-equipped classrooms (where every student can work conveniently at a computer) through “smart” classrooms (where the instructor has a networked computer and projection console).

3. Does the school have multimedia labs I can use to work on projects, and is help available?

Yes. Our Feinberg Computer Lab provides multimedia capability, and a staff assistant is always on hand to help you with questions or problems. Our Graphic Design Lab in Myers Fine Arts building offers more comprehensive capability.

4. Can the Library deliver documents to me electronically? Is there a cost?

Feinberg Library’s Interlibrary Loan service delivers documents from a large network of libraries to students via email. Any items not converted to electronic format are sent through the regular mail system. It’s all done at no cost to the student.

5. What help does the library provide for research assistance, and when is it available?

Helping students to conduct quality research is our business. Various assistance is available online and in-person. In addition to walk-in help, students can call the Research Help Desk at 518-564-5290, chat online with a librarian 24/7, or make an appointment for more in-depth assistance. Check online now for services and availability.

6. Does the campus offer training programs that will ensure I am fluent in current information technologies?

Absolutely! In fact, learning information and technology literacy is a mandatory requirement that can be met by taking the required class or by proficiency exam. Information-technology skills are further infused and reinforced throughout the general education program. For example, journalism students use desktop publishing software to produce newspaper and web publications. Accounting majors use specific accounting software to develop financial statements and reports. Education majors use special software to develop lesson plans.

7. What personal information can I view and update online?

A lot. From the time of application to graduation, you’ll find many key transactions online. You can view mailing and email address information, emergency contacts, and general student information (e.g., major, advisor, class level, etc.). You can view grades, your degree audit (showing your progress to graduation), financial aid awards and refunds, your bills and balances, and more. For your convenience, Plattsburgh lets you make online updates to your own address info, emergency contact information, and email information. You can make course adjustments, financial aid and student account transactions (e.g., accept aid, adjust your bill, make payments, etc.).

8. How does the campus manage email spam and spyware problems?

The entire campus community is covered by virus and spyware protection software. Spam is managed via controls on our campus firewall, intrusion detection systems, and on the mail server. Support staff will also help you to choose tighter restrictions by applying personal rules on the server or on your particular mail client.

9. What public access for computing is available to students?

We offer open-access, walk-up computers at locations in most buildings across campus. We also maintain a large open lab for student use. Wireless service is available in many public spaces and has been introduced in a number of lecture halls and classrooms.

10. Does the campus provide email accounts for all students and use email as an official medium of communication?

Yes. All students receive email accounts upon enrolling. The campus has an email policy designating assigned email accounts as an official means of communication.

11. What technology-supported career-planning services are available for students?

The Career Development Center has many computer and Internet-based tools to help with career exploration which lead into career inventories. It has over 80 on-line job lists that help the student divide the opportunities into geographic and subject areas. It also makes available many free industry-based special purpose packages.

12. What technology fee is charged? What does it cover? 

The Educational Technology Fee funds an array of technology that is critical to a your academic life. It’s meant to ensure that you have optimal — not simply minimal — support. The fee funds both services and facilities, including technology-enhanced classrooms, computer classrooms, discipline-based computer labs, network infrastructure, instructional technology, academic software, student information systems, and electronic databases.

13. Will I be required to purchase my own computer equipment and software?

Maybe. The answer depends upon your major. Students in some business degree programs take courses that integrate laptop computers. These students need to purchase a laptop compatible with assigned projects. All other students do not need to purchase computer hardware or software. While there are plenty of computer labs across campus, some students find that owning their own equipment is more convenient.

14. If I do purchase computer equipment, what hardware and software standards apply?

We recommend that students use Windows-based systems where possible, as there is generally more support for such items. Our Helpdesk does handle Linux and Apple support, though not in as great a depth. For best application support, we recommend using Microsoft Office as a base package. For hardware, we generally recommend going with a name brand system, bundled with a good warranty and printer. Where possible, we encourage students to buy systems from vendors with whom we have been certified to offer repair service (currently Dell or Gateway).

15. What kind of tech support is provided, and when is it available?

Our exceptionally talented Helpdesk professionals and student technicians are available to assist you with a variety of technical issues. Help covers triage (figuring out what the problem is, who should handle it, and when it will get fixed), configuration (we can tune your system and software so they work well together and allow you to work well with them), repairs (our technicians are certified for most vendors on campus and for some that are not used on campus), and more. Our Helpdesk is also the home of special services like Cardinal Computer Care Services and Residential Networking (ResNet).

*EDUCAUSEdescribes itself as “a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.”

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